First of all, you’re having another baby — congrats! We do have a lot to catch up on, obviously! But I will never catch you in terms of babies. We got the buy-one-get-one-free deal with twins and that’s plenty for us.
I have some stories to tell you about flying across the country with 2 crazy boys and a cat. And buying a car online. And a thousand different moving expenses. These will need to wait as I get back in the blogging groove. I should be able to start writing more again now that we’ve moved.
It’s time for the monthly money check.
Overall, I’m happy with August. A net worth gain of $19,530 in a month is nothing to sneeze at. We are currently ahead of the pace (to reach my goal of $1MM at age 45) by $26,735.
August was a good month mostly because we got paid 3 times. And we had a nice vacation at the beach. September will be interesting, and expensive, because of moving expenses, which I will detail soon. But I’ve got a nice buffer to work with.
Here are some highlights by category.
Cash: $15,832, decrease of $6,384
We bought a car! Online. Through Carvana. It was so easy. I’ll never go to a lot again.
The car purchase is net worth neutral because I’ll be adding back the car value under investments.
Debt: -$9,400, paid off $200
Nothing to see here. I’m waiting until we get settled in the US to decide whether to aggressively pay this or roll it to another 0% offer.
Investments: $230,919, increase of $16,815
As mentioned, the only real change here is the value of our new (used) car. We’re drawing down some alternative investments simply because they aren’t very tax efficient. The LLC value isn’t updated monthly.
Here’s a chart showing my progress for the full 2 years we lived overseas. The blue line shows actual results, while the red line shows the pace required to meet my goal.
I like that.
In 2 years, we were able to increase our family net worth by 44%, more than $200,000. This without a strict budget or a high allocation in stocks.
I have no idea how the next year will go. Back in the US, we have a huge rent expense (around $48,000 per year). However, we won’t be paying for preschool (which was $30,000 per year), so I’m optimistic we can at least maintain the pace for my goal.
This post will be full of detailed numbers (money porn) and cool graphics (eye candy) — because it’s summer, and summer is fun and bright and cheery. July was a sunny month for you and for us as well. Clear skies, no turbulence. As you can see, my net worth jumped by a happy $10,559.
BUT … BUDGETARY WINTER IS COMING.
(SHUDDER. OMINOUS MUSIC. CLOSE UP OF NIGHT KING’S EYE.)
We’re moving back to the US in August, and our expenses will be going up faster than you can say “Littlefinger is a creepy douchebag.”
I’m not sure if you get these references to Game of Thrones, Penny. If you don’t watch it, you might consider it after your tech hiatus. You could binge during a free trial of HBO on Amazon Prime!
Anyway, before I dump the cold reality on you, here’s a recap of July.
Cash: We’re building cash to buy a car in August. We’ve been living on one car overseas but we’ll need two in the US. My philosophy on cars is to pay cash. I look for cars that are 3 years old (or so) with under 50,000 miles. The “new” car will be for Mrs. R, and I’ll keep driving my 2006 Rav4 with 120,000 miles on it and deep stains from kid snacks.
Debt: This is 0% debt. I’d like to pay it, but I want to wait until we get settled back in the US. We always pay our debts.
Investments: I didn’t add new money to taxable investments, but I adjusted the value of my LLC holdings upward by $1,730 after doing a detailed breakdown on the blog.
What I like about July’s report: A 5 figure net worth gain is nothing to sneeze at, even if you have allergies.
What I don’t like: If I were paying $4k in rent, my gain would only be $6,500, which is not quite enough to stay on pace for my goal.
THE COLD REALITY
When we move back to the US, we will start paying out the nose for rent and parking. As in $4,000 per month. I’m not complaining, we’re happy to spend more so we can live in a walkable city neighborhood rather than commuting from the burbs.
Additionally, we’re going to need some odds and ends like beds for our boys, a couple other pieces of furniture, work clothes, and that car.
Here’s my list of upcoming expenses; I might be estimating low.
By the end of August, I’ll have enough cash to cover most of this. Besides, we won’t buy everything at once. That said, I expect the budget to be tighter the rest of the year. I don’t follow a strict budget, but with such drastic changes coming up, I wanted a rough idea of what our spending should look like. This is what I came up with.
Get ready for a bunch of graphical eye candy:
Some of the items, like the HSA, won’t kick in until the new year. What do you think of this budget? I rather like it. So colorful and symmetrical. No idea yet if it’s realistic.
Here’s what it will look like for a complete year.
So what does this mean for my savings and my net worth goal?
After my Retirement Plan post, Mr. O, specifically, asked about my LLC holdings. Happy to oblige. Here’s the story of how a $30,000 investment in farmland turned into more than $200,000. There are bunch of graphics and some stories from my neck of the woods.
Note: This page has affiliate links to good products we endorse. Full disclaimer.
I’m going to start this story at the end, and then talk about the beginning, and then return full circle to the very end, like one of those annoying historical fiction novels that jumps between the past and the present. I’ll try to do this without being annoying. Go read or watch Julie and Julia for a barometer of this approach. If you can stomach it.
Careful readers of my Retirement Plan, like Mr. Manifesto, noticed that around 30% of my Net Worth is currently tied up in what we will call Brothers LLC (Limited Liability Company). Here’s my net worth pie chart, updated:
Brothers LLC is like an investment club I’m in with my 2 brothers. More accurately, it’s me and Mrs. Rich and my brothers and their spouses. We all own our shares through our respective family living trusts (which I highly recommend for estate planning — more on this in a future post).
My brothers and I each bring unique contributions to our company.
Brother 1 is a former doc and a visionary. He can afford to be a visionary because he made huge money as a doc. He owns 55%. The LLC was his idea, and most of our holdings have come through his connections.
Brother 2 is a banker, he’s our numbers guy. He also makes big money, but he’s fairly conservative, as bankers can be. If he doesn’t like a deal, we usually pass. He owns 20%.
Brother 3 is me. I’m the youngest. I bring creativity and comic relief and the occasional flash of insight. I own 25%.
The foundation of Brothers LLC is farmland. None of us are farmers anymore, but we farmed growing up and we come from a long line of wheat farmers. My ancestors worked the land in France before immigrating to Canada and the northern Midwest, USA. It’s here that I must introduce a seedy character named Grandpa Jack. Get it? Seedy?
That’s not his real name, but people called him that. And now, we go back.
Grandpa Jack was a farmer who didn’t graduate from the 8th grade because, as he told the story, he was afraid of my grandmother. I didn’t get it, but I nodded when he told the story.
His whole life, he worked on the farm. Even in his 70s he would be fiddling around, fixing up old trucks, cussing about broken parts. His favorite was “Damnitalltohell” — properly said as one extended compound word. Honestly, I was afraid of the guy. Later on in high school, I told him I was going to start traveling to help people in other countries. His only question was, “When will you be back to the farm to work?” My grandma slipped me a card with $50 inside, and she wrote: “For your trip. Don’t tell Grandpa.”
Grandpa Jack had a falling out with my Dad, for various reasons, including the fact that when he retired he didn’t give Dad the land as he had promised. He made my Dad buy it in sections, full price.
In 2005, Grandpa Jack died, and true to form, he did not leave any land to my Dad, even though Dad had worked it for 40 years. Grandpa left land to his daughters (my aunts) and to a grandson (Brother 1). Other grandchildren received silver bars that Grandpa Jack had hidden in a woodpile in his backyard. I’m not kidding.
AUNTIE JUNE, NORTHERN MINNESOTA HILLBILLY
In 2008, my Auntie June, a chip off Jack’s block who had inherited 80 acres of land, was looking to sell. I have no idea why. Auntie June is a total mystery to me and I can’t believe we are related.
I just finished reading the excellent book Hillbilly Elegy (that you recommended, Penny). Grandpa Jack and Auntie June remind me of characters from that book. I’m not sure we have a good name for these people in Minnesota, rural folk who drink terrible beer and tell dirty jokes, and also shovel the sidewalk and wave to everyone they see. Imagine crossing a hillbilly with a character in the movie Fargo and stick them in Little House On The Prairie, and there you go.
Could we call them Prairie Dogs? I mean that with all respect.
Auntie June smokes like a chimney and carries dice in her purse, just in case anyone wants to gamble for quarters. And if you see Auntie June, you’re going to gamble for quarters. I’m guessing this habit has something to do with why she wanted to sell the land.
BROTHERLY VISION AND A DECISION
Like I said, Brother 1 is a visionary. After he inherited the farmland (151.5 acres), he immediately began pestering us to form a company and use the land as the basis for more investments. He could’ve done this himself, but he wanted the land to be a family asset and he also wanted to decrease his own risk. We ignored him at first.
But then he heard Auntie June was selling. So Brother 1 proposed that we pool our money to buy Auntie June’s land, and he would add it to his own land and give us a discount in the process. We would then have 231.5 acres to work with in an LLC.
The total cost to me would be $30,000 for a 20% share of the total. $30,000 was a lot of money to me in 2008. I was newly married, we were paying of Mrs. Rich’s student loans (totaling $30,000) and we were thinking of saving for a house.
We had to decide: house or LLC?
It was philosophical. Conventional wisdom says own a home. But we liked the idea of growing our investments and renting our residence. And I liked the idea of starting a family business with my brothers. So we scrapped together the money and BROTHERS LLC was born — from the ashes of Grandpa Jack’s grave and Auntie June’s cigarettes.
THE GREAT RECESSION AND THE FARMLAND BUBBLE
With my brother’s discount, our $30,000 was immediately worth $50,000. And much to our surprise, we had bought farmland just before land prices skyrocketed. In 2008, our land was worth around $1,150 per acre and rental prices were around $65 per acre, per year. A decent ROI of 5% or so. Then the Great Recession caused the Fed to lower interest rates, causing wheat and land prices to go nuts. Land prices tripled and rent prices doubled.
In 2010 and 2011, I started seeing articles about farmland in the NYT, WSJ, and USA Today. Not normal. By 2012, I was pounding the table with my brothers, telling them that we may never see prices like this again. Even my Dad, who loves to say, “God ain’t making more farmland,” was convinced to sell a section of land. That said, we didn’t want to sell ALL of it — it’s our family heritage and a unique asset. So Brothers LLC decided to sell the 80 acres we bought from Auntie June. And that’s how my $30,000 investment jumped to $186,000 in a flash.
As you can see on this chart, the value of our land went up 220% in 4 years and my investment went up right with it. In rural Minnesota, you just don’t see moves like this. It’s not New York, it’s the Prairie!
There was a bidding war and we got a great price. I think my profit after taxes and fees from the land sale was around $39,500. Instead of pocketing all the cash, I used $30k to purchase an additional 5% in the LLC from Brother 1. So, now I own 25%
DIVERSIFICATION AND LEVERAGE
The story of BROTHERS LLC after that is mostly a story about diversification and leverage.
I just realized I have no idea what you think about retirement. You probably aren’t thinking about it very much, considering the student loans you still need to pay off. But when you hear the word “retirement,” what do you think of?
Growing up, I thought of retirement as for only the very old. You got old, you couldn’t work anymore, so you had to stop working. It wasn’t a choice so much as a stage of life. And in the northern Midwest, you had 2 options:
Become a snowbird. This was the usually preferred option for those who could afford it. Move someplace hot (like Arizona or Mexico) for the winter, and return to the Midwest in the summer (to a lake house).
Stay in the Midwest year round. This was the option for those who didn’t want to change their way of life. During the cold winters, they’d watch TV and play BINGO.
As you might guess, I’m not into these options. No gray haired communities in a brown desert. No BINGO. I want travel, adventure, and good food. Mostly, I want the freedom and flexibility to decide later. I can’t be sure what 65 year old Rich will want (or, more importantly, what 60 year old Mrs. Rich will want), but I want enough dough to do whatever our future selves want to do.
So how will I get there?
Recently, some personal finance bloggers started a series called the Retirement Drawdown, so I thought it’d be interesting to analyze my own retirement plan and join the series. Please refer to the end of this post for more information and links to all the bloggers who have contributed.
RICH’S RETIREMENT PLAN — WHAT WE’RE STARTING WITH
As you’ll see in the chart below, most of my net worth is in retirement accounts — 401k and IRAs. 63.4% of my net worth, to be exact.
Aside from retirement accounts,my biggest investment by far is in an LLC I own with my brothers. We started the business in 2010 and we invest in farmland, commercial real estate, and one small business. Every year it seems we find 1-2 new investment opportunities.
My share of the LLC is currently worth $198,370. I’ve contributed $69,000, so it has done well. We receive occasional distributions from the rental income and the sale of properties. I’ve pocketed $38,670 so far. In retirement, I’m hoping it will produce regular income — more on this later.
THE NEXT 15 YEARS — PREPARING FOR RETIREMENT
My working assumption is that Mrs. Rich and I will both be working 15 more years. She’s younger than me, so maybe she will work a few years longer. Our kids are 5 years old, so in 15 years they will be 20, and by then we’ll have a good idea if they are “launching” as they should. We’ll see.
There’s another reason 15 years is a good estimate for running our numbers. We are in the lucky position of having a company pension. In around 15 years, I’ll be able to receive the full pension benefit, more or less.
So, what’s the plan over the next 15 years? Get ready for an exciting, unprecedented, and innovative answer …
We’ll keep doing what we’re doing. Managing cash flow, investing opportunistically, and maxing out retirement accounts. It’s a low-risk ride.
Here’s what I expect from my various net worth categories over the next 15 years, in 5 year blocks:
Ok, so this will take some unpacking.
Cash: Easy, this is just a gradual build.
HSA: I’m going to start maxing out an HSA in 2018. Currently, one can contribute $6,750 per year. That number may go up over time, and there might be investment gains. Then again, I might spend some of it on health expenses. So, I’ll assume no increase in contributions and a 0% rate of return here. The calculation is just $6,750 x 15.
Opportunity Fund–Opportunity Fund? Well, I don’t like the stock market very much right now, so I want a fund that will earn some interest and give me some dry powder for future investment opportunities. I’ll initially use my state’s Municipal Bonds for tax free 4% dividends. I plan investing $1,000 per month for 2018, and increasing this by $250 per month every year until I hit $3,000. At 4% compounding, it’ll add up fast. Finally, I’m assuming that I’ll use $200k of this on college for the kids, either by transferring it to a 529 or just withdrawing the money.
I should note that I’ll probably find other investments along the way, so this fund is a place holder.
Alternative Investments– I’m always looking for new and different investments. For example, I’ve earned a total of $30,000 investing over several years in marketplace lending via Prosper.com. I do this now primarily in a Roth IRA, for tax efficiency.
LLC– My assumption is that the LLC keeps growing at a decent pace. Even without appreciation, the land and properties are creating good cash flow. I assume $10k each year for the first 5 years, $12,500 each year for the next 5 years, and $15,000 each year for the final 5 years. These are actually fairly conservative numbers, around 5% return on investment.
There’s a bump in value to the LLC in the final year due to an expected farmland inheritance.
Retirement: These accounts are on autopilot, and my estimates are very conservative at 2-2.25% compounding, which is currently the rate on “risk free” treasuries.
Thus, at the end of 15 years, my pie chart will hopefully look something like this:
All well and good. A $3MM nest egg!
At first I thought my retirement plan was boring, but there’s nothing boring about a $3 Million nest egg. I try to remember this every month as I’m slowly but surely saving.
Before I begin this monthly money check, I want to briefly revisit why I’m writing these updates. Quite simply, my purpose is to track my financial progress and think through how I’m doing with regard to my goals, perhaps clarifying my goals along the way. My purpose is not to brag about finances or elevate money to supreme importance. Human happiness isn’t about money (although money well spent, arguably, can help). I’m also not trying to be an example for anyone. Everyone’s situation is different. This blog is mostly for me, and secondarily for you.
As you know, my goal is to reach a $1 Million Net Worth sometime during my 45th year of life. I gave myself the whole year for the margin of error. I didn’t set this goal for my 45th birthday because, frankly, I didn’t think I’d make it. I’ll be 45 in 39 months, approximately, and I still have nearly $400k to go. It’s a tall order.
However, I’m starting to think it’ll be close. The month of June is an example of why I think this.
From May 31 to June 30, our net worth jumped by $14,885. This is encouraging because there was nothing incredibly unusual about the month. Income was normal, with a little extra for overtime.
What’s more, there were no abnormal investment returns or risky market returns inflating my results. My largest investment — ownership of an LLC along with my brothers that primarily holds farmland and commercial real estate — was flat on the month.
It may sound strange to say that I’m encouraged by a lack of returns, but to me this shows that my financial goals are not dependent on any short term risks. As I’ve noted, I hate the broad stock market right now. I think it’s a bubble and I refuse to buy shares at these valuations. (Actually, I might buy some individual stocks opportunistically, like Nintendo before Christmas season, but I’m not buying the broad S&P 500 index here and now). The beauty of it is, I don’t need stocks. Investing, to me, is about risk and reward and meeting goals. If I can meet my goals without undue risk, I will.
Anyway, financially speaking this was a normal month, and it was a good month. When we move back to the US, we’ll need to pay a whopping $4,000 per month in rent, but even with that expense this would still have been a good month.
Widening the lens, I can’t believe half the year is gone! Let’s see how 2017 is going, with some observations by category.
Net worth is up by $72,837 in 2017. More than half of this is in retirement, so it’s not money we’ll be touching anytime soon. The next largest portion is from debt destruction. It’ll be nice to get that completely out of the way. After that, a bit of cash and investment gains.
Your lack of spending is really astounding. As we’ve said many times, the point of making money and spending money isn’t money itself, it’s to get something of value in return. At first I thought maybe there just wasn’t much that you valued because you spend so little. I think that’s partially true. You don’t value vacations like I do, for example. You don’t value clothes at all. You don’t, in general, value many things that cost money. But when you do value something, like education, you’re willing to pony up.
Turns out I value plenty of things in life that cost at least a fair bit of money. I value travel, eating out, a short commute to work (because I value work) and so on. Even though I’m not going to detail all my expenses (waste of time), I can still sneak some money porn into the post by highlighting a few things Mrs. Rich and I specifically valued in May. To wit:
A beach house rental for the summer: $653.22 (partial payment). Because we value family beach vacations.
A deposit on our new apartment: $1,100. Because we value an apartment close to school, close to work, and close to enjoyable activities.
A painting by a local artist: $410.88. Because we value art, and we value a beautiful reminder of our 2 years overseas.
According to many personal finance blogs, this is just craziness. We spent $2,500 on a few things and what did we get, really? A glorified blender, a painting, and some overpriced places to stay?
Yes, actually. That’s what we got. I do realize this kind of spending will prevent us from retiring early. But I don’t want to retire early if it means no smoothies.
I also realize that we spent more on these 4 items than you spent on everything in May. That does seem a bit crazy. How could we be so different? Which one of us belongs in the looney bin?
Most of all, I value going through life without worrying too much about money. I like thinking about money and managing money, but not worrying about money. I value financial security. Financial security is the basis for my goal of reaching a $1 Million net worth at age 45.
NET WORTH PROGRESS
Let’s check on that goal. Going into the month of May, I had a net worth of $603,982. Therefore, I still need $396,018 with 53 months to go. I need to average an increase of $7,472 per month. In May …
… my net worth increased by $7,749. Ding! In 2017, I’m up $57,951 , or $11,590 per month. I won’t keep that up but I think I’ll stay on track for my goal. Here’s a chart showing my progress since I started tracking it in September 2015.
Now, let’s look at each net worth category separately to see how I’m maintaining this upward trajectory.
First of all, your money check, despite the Blergs, was awesome — you’ve paid off a huge amount on your student loans this year. Does it feel like it’s picking up steam or still feel like really slow progress?
In my last monthly money check, I talked about how tracking my expenses in great detail isn’t worth the effort for me. The expense reports were interesting in terms of being money porn, but the truth is we don’t talk about basic expenses much at home. Mostly, we talk about priorities and we talk about large, lumpy bills. We don’t quibble about a $3 latte when we have a $24,000 preschool bill.
A couple fellow bloggers (Max, Mustard) commented that tracking expenses was useful for maintaining a baseline. I agree with this to a certain point, and maybe my disagreement with them is semantics. I’m more in line with Go Finance Yourself, who doesn’t do a detailed expense budget. Let me explain further by showing what I don’t do and what I do do.
Do do? Ha!
First what I don’t do. I don’t set a budget whereby I try to limit spending to a certain amount in each expense category. For example, I don’t have a budget of $500 for groceries and then get anxious when I spend $700. To me, that’s what people normally speak of when they talk about budgets. It’s a way of controlling spending behavior.
I can imagine someone doing this if they don’t have much leeway, or if they need to live on a tight early retirement income. I get that, and it’s a smart approach. I’m curious if this actually helps people control behavior or if it just describes behaviors they already have. At any rate, it doesn’t help me much. I don’t care about a few hundred dollars here or there as long as I’m paying the bills and regularly achieving my goals.
So here’s what I do. I maintain a cash flow timeline where I project my income and expenses a few months out. It looks like this (although this is a simplified example):
As you can see, I know how much is coming in and approximately how much is going out. I update the numbers when my credit card statements arrive. I also include money I’m setting aside for goals, like the IRA and the 529 plan. And I can see my final balance.
So let’s say I need to buy a car in late summer (which I do). When I look at my timeline, I can see that I’ll have $22k available. I want a car in the $15-18k range, so I’m prepared for that lump expense. If my balance starts to get tight, I can easily adjust by postponing an IRA transfer or something. Not a big deal.
Does that make sense? This does not seem like a budget to me. When I put $5,000 on my credit card, I don’t really care how much of it is groceries and how much is electricity and so on. The only thing I care about is if I have enough available cash to pay the bills, absorb the lumps, and set aside money for our priorities. If I can do that, I’ll meet all my goals, which I’ve set up ahead of time.
What do you think, is this a budget in disguise or something else?
Ok, enough of that. Let’s take a look at my Net Worth numbers for April and I’ll share some observations. Click on the chart for a better view.
So far this year, my net worth has grown by $12,550 per month. Outstanding! I won’t keep that pace, but I’m on track to meet my goal of $1MM at the age of 45.
I have 4 main categories that make up my Net Worth, and goals for each category. Here’s my progress report.
I think a lot of people who read personal finance blogs do so because they want to see in public what most people keep private. It’s financial voyeurism. Money porn.
What’s funny is we receive around 2 readers per day who, apparently, are searching for some combination of “money” and “porn.” I don’t think a personal finance blog is what they have in mind. Imagine their annoyance. “Hey, this isn’t money porn! It’s just a couple bloggers who are cousins bickering over nonsense!”
My question is, what the heck are they actually looking for??
Don’t answer that.
Ok, let’s have a look at my finances for the month of March. First, net worth.
In March, Mrs. Rich and I got paid 3 times. That’s the primary reason our net worth jumped by $22,488. Our average net worth gain per month in 2017 has been $12,358, waayyyy ahead of the pace we need to reach my goal of $1MM when I’m 45.
Now for the bad news. We won’t be able to maintain this pace, because we’ve got some lumpy expenses coming up.
OUR EXPENSES ARE LUMPY
I’ve been tracking my expenses for 3 months now. I’d never done it before, but I thought it’d be interesting money porn for you and our readers. Have you found it … exciting?
I think I’ve confirmed 2 truths about my budget that I had suspected. First, we spend a lot on food (average = $2,200 per month). It’s more than I expected, but not ridiculously more than I expected. We’re not frugal when it comes to food, I knew that already.
Second, I’ve confirmed to myself why I don’t usually track regular, recurring expenses. This will sound crazy: I don’t think they matter in my situation. Look at this chart (click image for a better view):
Everything is in a narrow, somewhat predictable range, and then BOOM — half a year of preschool for 2 kids for $12,000. In the past 2 years, we’ve spent, I don’t know, $60,000 on preschool-related expenses. We more or less had to send our kids to this preschool because we’re in a foreign country, but even without preschool we’d still need full time child care. In the past 5 years we’ve spent $150,000 on preschool + child care. Conservatively.
Your food support post got me thinking about how I feel about supporting myself, i.e. self-reliance. I think it’s fair that you receive help, that’s why it’s there, no shame in that. So what I’m about to say isn’t intended to contradict the idea of food support or project anything onto your situation, it’s just my own internal perspective.
Probably my number one goal in life is to ensure that I will not need food support and that no one in my family will ever need food support, for generations to come.
I’m not saying we need to be the Vanderbilts, wealthy beyond imagination and not needing to work. I’m talking about having a firm foundation for self-reliance, autonomy, and opportunity. It’s about being ahead of the curve financially rather than digging out of extreme debt or relying on the government.
We interrupt our regular programming to bring you the first edition of Rich’s Ramblings!
It’s simply this: I might have thoughts, ideas, inklings that I want to share quickly, but I haven’t had the time to completely process them into full on professional blog posts. (Which is funny, because when did blogs become so professional?? They used to be for amateur novelists and family photos.) So, I’ll stick these 8 pound 6 ounce newborn baby ideas into Rich’s Ramblings.
What about Penny? Maybe she’ll have Penny’s Ponderings or some such. Or Penny For Her Thoughts. Up to her.
Last part of this preamble: I need to be able to write a ramble in one hour or less. Otherwise, it’s a post. Ok, go.
First a random thought and then on to my main topic.
RANDOM THOUGHT: WHY ARE SO MANY ENGINEERS TRYING TO RETIRE EARLY?
It seems like half of all early retirement bloggers are engineers. Why? Is it because engineers are smart and like to design systems (including early retirement systems)? Or is it because engineering jobs are soul-crushing and need to be escaped? I really want to know before my kids get old enough to consider engineering. Thank you for any advice!
MAIN RAMBLE: I THINK STOCKS ARE IN A BIG FAT BUBBLE
This first ramble will, I’m sure, draw all sorts of ridicule and hate mail. It’s ok. I’m 41 years old with twin boys. I simply can’t be offended or humiliated. I’ve held a dirty diaper in one hand and a crying boy in the other at 30,000 feet with dozens of onlookers. And that’s a mild story.
Many personal finance bloggers have been asking themselves if stocks are in a bubble. It usually starts with “Stocks are definitely a bit frothy right here, I’m nervous,” and it usually ends with something like, “I’m sticking to my plan, stocks are for the long run, yadda yadda yadda, I’m really tired today.”
But let’s analyze what we’re saying about stocks before we convince ourselves to stick with them. We — and by this I mean me and a bunch of market observers at this point — are saying it’s pretty obvious that stocks are either fully priced or overpriced. At the very least, we can say that stocks, on the whole, are notunderpriced (which is the best time to buy them). If you think stocks are underpriced … agree to disagree. San Diego means Saint Diego.
Personally, I think we are in a bubble created by low interest rates, QE, and momentum. I also think many people agree with me but do not want to act on it. I’m not going to wow you with complicated math arguments. You can read those elsewhere (like here — Hussman Funds Weekly Market Comment). I’m just going to show you this chart, and if you think what’s happening right now is totally normal, that’s ok.
If you think the first 2 bubbles were obvious but this one is not, that’s ok. Saint Diego.
I’M OUT OF THE STOCK MARKET RIGHT NOW. COMPLETELY.